The Great Sticky Note Crisis of 2014

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Or maybe texting isn’t as awesome as I thought.

Friday was the last day of kid #3’s classes before Fall break. This is part and parcel of the modified year-round school schedule here where kids start school in late July and get a two-week break in late September.

No, it doesn’t make a whole lotta sense to take a break just when they’re getting acclimated to showing up at school sometime between 7 and 8am five days a week. It’s like that ridiculous math rule that multiplying two negatives makes a positive, it just has to be accepted despite all arguments to the contrary.

Most weekday mornings my house resembles either a convent where the inhabitants have all taken a vow of silence, or a zoo filled with angry, snarling animals.

Friday it was a zoo. #3 snarled and snapped at me for no reason I could discern. I can usually act like a mature adult around this surliness, but I was in no mood for that sh*t. I don’t exactly rejoice in making someone a hot breakfast before dawn. And this week was no fun at all, so I may have muttered a nasty word at her, mostly under my breath.

Not a stellar start.

I got her dropped off at the usual place, at the usual time just as the sun was rising. (I’m really done with this already.)

At 9:52am, I received this text from #3:

“Mom I need transparent sticky notes STAT”

(My very first thought was: WTF? It’s the last day before a two week break, how important can transparent sticky notes be? Followed by: Does she seriously expect me to careen over to the nearest office supply store, purchase said sticky notes, and deliver them to the school office?)

I responded:

“What do you want me to do?”

Her reply:

“Please get some or else my book will be litered with nON TRANSPARENT STICKIES”

No joke, ya’ll, that’s the exact text. Ignoring, if we can, the spelling error and dramatic capitalization, I discerned that this was a) an issue in her accelerated English class (which I sincerely hope covers spelling), and b) not an actual sticky note emergency.

I assured her I would pick some up while I was out running errands. So in between finding a Fed Ex drop-off place (harder than I expected because they all moved when I wasn’t looking) at which to deposit the latest round of escrow papers on the House That Is Taking Forever To Sell; swinging by the post office to mail an escrow form to my divorce lawyer — because parties to a divorce can’t do anything without their lawyers’ involvement, thus generating more fees for her kids’ college funds; going to the grocery store and the home improvement store, I skittered into Office Depot.

The fresh-faced young man at the door asked if he could help me and I shoved my damn phone in his face, demanding he tell me where they kept the transparent sticky notes.  His reply, “I’m not sure we have transparent ones.”

Are you serious? Am I hunting nematoads, for crying out loud?

He escorted me to the sticky note aisle, awash in a sea of neon colors, and I proceeded to find and capture the last three packs of transparent sticky notes in the store (and at four bucks a pop, she better use them wisely).

Honestly, now that I know what to look for, I can keep a supply on hand from Amazon.

Of course, now that I have a plan, she’ll never need another transparent sticky note in her life.

Six Weeks In, When’s Graduation?

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‘Round these parts, the school districts follow a “modified” year round schedule. That means, loosely, eight weeks of classes followed by a two week break. Rinse and repeat. Except there’s a week off for Thanksgiving, three weeks off for Winter break, and five or six weeks off for summer. It’s random.

The school day runs from 7:10 am until 2:15 pm, except for minimum days when it’s 7:38 am to 12:21 pm or Pro Hour days when it’s 8:00 am to 2:18 pm. Confused? Yeah, I’m starting a club for that.

My youngest child, kid #3, started high school on July 23. We went over and registered her the week before. Picked her classes and everything. She even went to the Freshman Orientation that week. Imagine her surprise when she showed up the first day of school and no one could find her schedule. She spent four hours in the cafeteria with all the other kids nobody knew what to do with.

But they found her schedule just in time for her final class of the day. The next day was bound to be better, right?

Nope. The next day began the great iPad Issuing Debacle and resulted in the first of many, many robocalls I’ve received from the school about unexcused tardies and absences. None of these calls has been accurate, and I did check. Extensively. The CIA has nothing on my mom interrogation techniques.

Well, the start of every new thing can often be rocky, so day three just had to be less chaotic. No again, my friends. The school went into lockdown due to an armed robbery at a nearby business.

At this point, I seriously considered yanking kid #3 out of public school and moving to Amish country. Or something. But she was making friends and seemed unfazed by the nearby gun-play.

And things have smoothed out, mostly.

I continue to receive robocalls from the school about phantom tardies and absences. Kid #3 goes to the teacher(s) and the office to get them straightened out. I’m also informed via robocall from the school of the local police department’s enforcement of its zero tolerance policy on underage drinking whenever there’s a concert at the nearby amphitheater. I really had no idea there were so many concerts in our city.

And I naively assumed the police would enforce the zero tolerance policy on underage drinking on non-concert days, y’know, follow the law.

Live and learn.

Every single call from the school is followed up with an email containing an imbedded audio file of the phone call. This school has really taken “the more you know” to heart.

Back to School Night was two weeks ago and I finally got to see the classrooms and meet the teachers. I was impressed by their professionalism and caring, although the geography and math teachers seemed really beaten down by their students’ inability to follow simple directions, and who can blame them? Their procedures sounded simple and straightforward, but are apparently beyond the ken of 14-year olds.

The math teacher also had the unhappy task of informing the (incredibly few) parents who showed up that most of the kids were going to get failing grades in the first reporting period for reasons I found a bit vague. Sure enough, a week later kid #3 brought home a letter that stated she was getting an F and required to go to tutoring every afternoon the following week.

Poor kid had to go to school and then tutoring from 7:10 am until 4:30 pm every day last week. It paid off, because the first grade report came home Friday and she had a C- in math.

Is it too soon to start applying to colleges?

Sh*t I Don’t Miss About My Husband, Part I

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The last time I saw my attorney, she suddenly looked up from the papers we were reviewing and asked, “Do you miss him?”

With no thought at all, my mouth said, “NO.”

It’s the cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die truth.  I don’t miss a single thing about the man I was married to for 23 and a half years.  And that’s a little bit sad.

I don’t miss the lies.  Big lies, little lies, dark lies, white lies, and stupid lies.  I got to the point that I didn’t believe a word out of his mouth unless I could independently verify it.  And that continues even more so now.

I don’t miss walking on eggshells all the time.  I never knew what would set him off, and not in the way you’re probably thinking.  He wasn’t outwardly violent, he was pouty and snippy.  I had a mental list of things to avoid, but he added new stuff that upset him to the list regularly and it was impossible to keep up.

I don’t miss feeling like I was bats**t crazy.  On a daily basis, we had an exchange that went something like this:

Me:  Did you do XYZ?

Him:  No.  Why?

Me:  Yesterday/last week/last month you said you’d do XYZ on your way to/from work.

Him:  Really?  I don’t remember that.

I truly thought I was losing my mind.  Nope.  I was living with a passive-aggressive man whose go-to response to any request was that he didn’t see, didn’t hear, didn’t have time, didn’t remember, didn’t realize anything.

I don’t miss the physical and emotional distance.  He barely spoke to me or the kids for years.  He had to be cajoled into participating in family activities like decorating the Christmas tree.  Eventually, I gave up and just did stuff without him.  Great training for post-marriage life.

I don’t miss paying a price for everything.  If I wanted something, anything, there was always a price I had to pay to get it.  A martyred sigh.  Rolled eyes.  A whiny tirade about how he didn’t wanna.  It didn’t matter if it was his attendance at a child’s event or a ride to pick up my car from the shop, I always paid for his favors.  (And everything was a “favor.”)

I don’t miss being blamed for everything he was unhappy about.  Nothing was ever a result of his choices, actions, or inactions.  I was his scapegoat.

I know that Voldemort suffered from depression and had several major depressive episodes during our marriage.  It took a long time for me to understand that he was also a textbook passive-aggressive personality.  No doubt I was a co-dependent personality.  About six years ago, I took that bull by the horns and quit feeding his monster.  I drew boundaries and defended them.  I worked to define myself as a separate person, one not responsible for his failings.  Not my circus, not my monkeys.

It’s gotten much better with him gone.  Now I don’t take his passive-aggression personally.  I don’t feed it.  I don’t own it.

And I don’t miss it.

I’ve finally reached that phase of the divorce process where I know it’s really over and I no longer regret choosing to marry Voldemort all those years ago.  I’m starting to feel truly free, to believe I can make choices and plans without paying a price to him.  I don’t have to answer to him or placate him any longer.

With that freedom comes amazing peace and possibilities, things I never thought to experience again and certainly not as the result of such a painful ending.

If you are woman, you are wonderful

3kids2cats1divorce:

Amazing, uplifting, and an awesome reminder, whether you’re walking through darkness or light right now.

Originally posted on You have my word.:

One. Do not try and be older before you have been young.

Two. Be true. Don’t spend time reading magazines that fill half their pages with how to lose all that weight to be a better you, and the other half trying to convince you that you already are. The only person who can really make you happy is you.

Three. It’s ok that you’re afraid of spiders. And of tomorrow. It’s ok that you’re afraid of failing and being alone. It’s ok that you’re even afraid of admitting you’re afraid. Don’t let fear stop you moving your feet.

Four. Do not fret about the fact that you talk more than men, or that you cry more than men or that your thighs sometimes touch because you eat more chocolate than men. Those curves are gorgeous. The tears will dry, and get this – women smile more than men too…

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Meditation: You’re Doing It Right

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I’ve read a lot of posts by bloggers frustrated because they can’t meditate right. Or it just doesn’t “work” for them. I had the same experience for many years. And there’s a lot of money being made convincing us that there’s a single way to meditate or even a “best” way to meditate.

Lies. All damn lies.

The “best” and only way to meditate is whatever works for you.

Thoughts roll through your mind, seemingly endlessly? Completely normal. We have in excess of 60,000 thoughts every day. So, yeah, a few are going to flitter in at inconvenient times. As davidji says, “Let your thoughts be like clouds passing through. You be unconcerned.”

Life still stuck in neutral, or worse stuck in the gear of “suck”? Completely normal and incredibly frustrating. I’ve been meditating daily for almost three years and I’ve found that the effects of meditation are cumulative. Events that made me lose my s**t three years ago are a little easier to handle. Some are easier than others. Sure, there are multiple factors influencing my ability to tolerate stupidity or unfairness, but I attribute staying calm internally in a lot of situations to my meditation practice.

Still not convinced? Here’s a TED Talk about the importance of simply allowing yourself to be still for 10 minutes a day:

Seriously, whatever needs your attention or has to be worried about will still be there in 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes are going to pass no matter what you do with them. It’s up to you to consciously decide how to use them. Quit worrying about your thought bubbles, focus on your breath, and just float here and now for a few minutes.

I even use the “ohm” mantra sometimes. Totally works for me.

In The Remedial Class on Forgiveness

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I’ve been separated for two and a half years, and neck-deep in the legal process of divorce for 12 months. I’ve wrestled with the idea of forgiving Voldemort pretty much every one of those 750+ days.

He was the first thought I had every morning for months. The last thought I had before sleep, too. These weren’t nice thoughts. In the very beginning, I was worried he was suicidal, later I simply wished for vengeance.

I read about forgiveness. I meditated on forgiveness and compassion. I’ve had a couple of a-ha moments when I’ve forgiven him in my heart for very specific things. But I’m still angry, resentful, and hurt. I still feel he made a choice and paid no price for it.

What I realized recently, though, is that he’s no longer the first or last thought I have every day. And I think that change is due partly because of time and distance, but mostly it’s because our lives are finally becoming untangled.

Once the house is sold (please for the love of all that’s holy, let the house sell soon), a huge component of our partnership is gone.

That’s a relief.

We seem to be reaching an end to the settlement negotiations finally, so our legal partnership will be severed.

The more time, distance, and resolution I receive, the more I’m able to move forward with action on my needs, my wants, my hopes. Not having to deal with his colossal mess will allow me a true fresh start.

And I’m hopeful that having that distance will make forgiveness more available. At a minimum, I’d like to get to a place where I’m not actively resenting him. That’s just not part of the life in front of me.

Lost in a Book

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I’m a lifelong voracious reader. I’d rather read a book than do just about any other leisure activity. I’m not even going to pretend that I’m engaging in a slow perusal of high-brow classics — I like urban fantasy, mystery, paranormal romance, thrillers, and even the occasional non-fiction offering. No Jane Austen here.

I used to do a monthly blog post of mini-reviews of the books I’d read the previous month and that was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, last August when I was served with divorce papers, I developed a terrible side effect. I found I could no longer focus my mind enough to read.

When I needed it most, I couldn’t read.

And when I tried, assuming I could get past that one paragraph I’d read over and over and over again, I hated the stories. I found that nothing held my interest; the characters were insipid; the plots ridiculous.

It wasn’t the books.

It was me.

Spending so much time completely immersed in the legal process of divorce and its requirement to think about and deal with Voldemort, I was unable to escape the emotional aftereffects and simply enjoy a good book. This lasted about six very long months.

Once the settlement meeting and moving to a new home were behind me, I became more relaxed and was able to actually read a book again. I still hated a lot of what I read and wasn’t sure if the stories were lacking or if I was still stuck in a pissy, judgmental place.

As time passed, I’ve been able to reclaim my love of reading. I’ve once again found my equilibrium and can absolutely discern when I’m just not in the mood for a particular story versus a story that isn’t well written. It’s a relief and a joy to open my Kindle (587 books waiting to be read!) or go to the library (thousands of choices!). I once again crave the simple pleasure of being lost in a book for an hour or a day.

Marriage may not last forever, but books are lifelong friends. Have you lost or given up an activity you really loved during stressful times? Did you ever go back to it? Did you discover something new? And how did you handle the stress without your favorite hobby?

Conquering Shame

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A year ago, I was served with divorce papers. And in those papers my almost-former spouse claimed I had a bachelor’s degree in English. He knew this was a gaping wound for me. He chose to pour salt into it.

It was a direct challenge to me. I could either let it slide, subjecting myself to the future income claims such a statement insinuated or I could embrace my shame.

I chose to own my lousy choices and embrace the shame.

I took freakin’ forever to get my degree. And in the end, I completed all the coursework for the English degree, but I simply could not pass the Mathematics exit exam.

I tried at least a half dozen times. I studied. I got tutoring.

I missed a passing score by one or two points every time.

It was frustrating, humiliating, demoralizing. With typical youthful arrogance, I decided I would deal with it later. I got a job. Then a husband, a promotion, and eventually a layoff notice and three kids.

Later is long past. It’s time to deal with this. I’m sick of feeling ashamed of myself for being such a moron. I’m tired of feeling like a liar.

I finally contacted the University’s academic advisors and started the ball rolling to find out what exactly I need to do to finish that degree. First, they have to go find the microfiche with my transcripts (not even kidding, I attended so long ago that my records are on microfiche). Then the transcripts will be scanned and evaluated. In the meantime, the extremely professional and understanding advisor recommended I take a math class at the community college. She was already trying to find a work-around for math-addled me.

I went to the community college and took the assessment test. Y’know what? I placed into Elementary Algebra. Go, me! I thought I’d forgotten every single thing I ever knew about Algebra (which really wasn’t much), and even though it felt like my brain would explode, I dug deep and solved those problems.

I’m going to make Algebra my bitch.

I’m going to take one of the decisions I regret most in my life and turn it into something I’m proud of. It’s going to take at least two college math classes, and very likely some additional upper division courses at the University, but I’m going to finish what I started 34 years ago.

Go to hell, Voldemort. I may have to find a part-time, minimum wage job and scrape to get by, but I’m proud of myself. I have nothing to be ashamed of.*

*Well, except ending that sentence with a preposition, but that’s artistic license, not shameful.

Estrogen Envy

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I’m going through menopause. It’s more accurate to say I’m being dragged through menopause kicking and sweating. I’ve been going through menopause for years, which I found out is completely normal and expected.

Well, no one ever told me it would take friggin’ years. Just like no one in Lamaze class ever mentioned that there would be copious amounts of blood for weeks after giving birth. How ‘bout a heads-up on this stuff?

I found some things that helped with the symptoms. I felt better when I was careful to eat very healthy food (lots of fruits and vegetables). I felt better if I exercised daily. I felt better if I meditated.

But none of that is helping much anymore. I have hot flashes and night sweats all the time. I may be short-tempered and hard to live with, but my roommates (aka my teenage kids) are so riddled with adolescent hormones they rarely speak to me, so I’m not sure if it’s me or them.

Getting hormone replacement therapy is damn near impossible. My doctor, a woman the traitor, takes a very dim view of HRT in menopause. It can lead to heart attacks, strokes, blah, blah, blah. Oh please. Unchecked menopause can lead to alcoholism and attempted murder, so really, what’s worse? It would be easier to score heroin than estrogen around here.

Would it actually be even easier to get a medical marijuana prescription?

Yeah, probably.

Stuck With Waiting

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The buyers who are in escrow for the marital home have had a second escrow fall through on their condo. Our house sale is contingent on them selling their current home and that just ain’t happenin’.

Voldemort has had the marital settlement agreement for almost four months and hasn’t made a peep to my attorneys. If I were a gambler, I’d bet he’s waiting for the house to sell, but that’s taking forevah.

So I’m stuck.  Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

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